There are many ways to earn college credit without taking a class. One of those is to “test out” of classes or subjects you are already knowledgeable in. This can be done in a variety of ways including CLEP tests (College Level Examination Program), which is likely the best-known of such options. But there is another option especially for military people known as DANTES, or the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support.
What Is DANTES?
At the DANTES official site, the mission statement includes providing “no-cost education and career-planning programs” for military members. That includes providing military members with the opportunity to test out of classes using something called DANTES Subject Standardized Tests or DSST.
What Are DSST Tests?
DSSTs are exams designed to test your knowledge in a variety of general subject matter areas including:
- Physical Science
- Social Sciences
There are multiple tests offered under each subject matter area; the subject matter area tests are not “general business” or “general math,” etc.
DANTES offers both CLEP and DSST options. The focus of this article is the DSST options but some potential test-takers want to know how DSSTs are different. One such difference is in who offers and administers the exams. According to the DANTES official site, “DSST exams are offered by Pro-metric while CLEP exams are offered by the College Board.”
DANTES testing also carries an extra advantage; the agency provides DSST at no cost to the military member.
DSST exams are said to be comparable to final exams for undergraduate students. The tests may be offered to military members on base, but there are also tests held nationwide at U.S.-based and overseas-based DANTES testing centers.
DSST exams are for lower-level and upper-level coursework alike.
Advantages Of DSST
- Those who pass the DSST test earn college credit for that subject matter area
- DSST helps reduce degree completion time
- You may qualify for one DANTES-paid attempt per exam title
- Exam scores are included in the military member’s Joint Services Transcript
- Free test preparation materials are available thru DANTES
- Tests are usually scored immediately
Costs Of DSST
There are fees involved with DSST. Contact your college to learn what the current costs are; military members are eligible for no-cost testing.
Who Qualifies For Free DSST?
Military personnel, including Guard and Reserve components, U.S. Coast Guard, and USCG Reserve members all qualify for free DANTES funding IF they have a current government-issued Common Access Card (CAC).
U.S. Coast Guard spouses (active duty and Reserve) must “have and maintain the Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card, DD Form 1173” according to the DANTES official site.
Who is Not Eligible For Free DANTES DSST Testing
- Inactive Guard members
- Inactive Reservists
- Coast Guard members
- Coast Guard Reservists
- Coast Guard Auxiliary
- Military Retirees
- Separated veterans
- Discharged Veterans
- DoD Acquisition Workforce Personnel
- Spouses, Dependents, and Civil Service employees
Taking The Same DSST Test More Than Once
Only your first attempt at a DANTES test (per subject) is funded by DANTES. If you need to take a test over again, you will be required to pay the costs out-of-pocket.
Who Creates The Tests?
DSST exams come from a company called Prometric, a “trusted provider of market-leading test development and delivery solutions.”
Who Accepts DANTES Test Results As College Credit?
Nearly two thousand colleges and universities nationwide accept DSST tests as college credit. Furthermore, the DANTES official site says the American Council on Education has “evaluated and recommended the college credit for all DSST exams.”
How many such credits a college or university will accept is up to the college. You will need to discuss your tests with an admissions rep at the college of your choice. Not all colleges handle DSST or even CLEP testing the same.
What DSST Tests Are The Most Popular?
The DANTES official site lists a variety of classes, but some are more popular than others. Here are some of the most popular:
- Principles of Supervision
- Principles of Public Speaking
- Introduction to Computing
- Human Resource Management
- Organizational Behavior
Where To Sign Up For DSST
There are a set of steps you should follow to sign up for DSST:
- Learn your school’s current policy for converting DSST tests to college credit. No two institutions are alike, you will need to discuss your plans with your academic advisor, admissions office, etc.
- Review the DANTES Test Center Database for test locations near you.
- Visit the DANTES site for the most current application instructions.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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